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Monday, 17 February 2014

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yep. The womens snowboard-cross (as it's called in Japan) was a blast. Not a dull moment, and the athletes looked like they were having a good time too.

A shame the men's event has been postponed. I even left work a little early to catch it...

I've really enjoyed it too, Mike. Quite close to the BMX event in the Summer Games, but more graceful as there's none of that frantic pedalling. I presume with your fondness of [the cue-based game which cannot be named] you are also enjoying the curling? The angles and impacts and tactics make for an infinitely more entertaining spectacle than the other Olympic 'accuracy sports' such as shooting.

To me the hundredths of a second wins in the Olympics are what is amazing about them..... the level of competition is that high. Truly the best athletes in the world. that being said I enjoy the relatively new sport of short track speed skating.... you know someone said, "why not just send them all at once?".

You need to see the womens' final from 4 years ago....

They do have a skier version called skiercross. It is apparently not in the olympics. I suppose these are to skiing and snowboarding, what roller derby is to speed skating.

In skiing they did this in the 60's out at Aspen Highlands. It was called the Bash for Cash if I remember correctly. Every one would gather at the top of the mountain, and at the start they would all take off for the bottom of the mountain in mass. First skier down to the bottom of the mountain was the winner.

My favourite definition of a non-sport that's in the Winter Olympics is the Bobsleigh - a sport you can compete in against your will!

They have it for skiers too! Due to the extra speed the skiers get, they have to run it after the boarder cross, as they need to reduce the size of the jumps. Very cool. But yeah, very brutal!

there's an equivalent in skiing, they send 4 guys down the slope at the same time. not sure what it's called and if it's olympic, but it sure does exist and is as spectacular as you can imagine

I can't stand any of the Snowboarding events. They don't rank and the one you mentioned is way to sloppy. It Shouldn't be there.

Slim margins of victory aren't extciting to you? You don't think it's exciting when someone who's racing knows they need to dig deep because they are so close in time and skill level?? Really?

The Snowboard events are all slop.

[Really. A bobsled run that "wins" by 3/100ths of a second is not in the realm of athletics or skill or anything else remotely relevant to anything. It's two runs of essentially the same speed, artificially distinguished for the sake of "competition" in name only. They ought to share the gold. --Mike]

Ski Cross is an Olympic sport - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DAOThtbnbQA

Men's final this coming Thursday (Feb 20) and women's final the following day.

It exists, It's called skicross. And for perspective, a Russian skier fell and broke her back a couple of days ago.

If they could incorporate a crossover in the course somehow, it might even be more awesome.

I am going skiing in a couple of weeks, you know the old fashioned thing with two skis and sticks. I just hope the boarders can control their enthusiasm for this Olympic discipline and avoid me when they hurtle down the slope. I enjoyed watching the Snowboard Cross on Sunday and hope I can avoid those kind of crashes.

Another sport I am enjoying watching is the speed skating. Being Dutch I am a bit biased, but I think we are doing fantastically well, currently at number two in the medals table, having won the most medals of any nation: 17 (1 more than the USA, not bad for a country with just 15 million inhabitants)

I don't know that I want to see the crashes at 70 mph between multiple racers. But I agree that the events would be more interesting.

But more importantly for NBC, six people at a time means one-sixth the ads. So head to head racing is a tough sell. (Pun not intended, but I think many of these puns are subconscious.)

Picture for a moment the carnage that would ensue if two downhill ski racers bumped each other over a jump at 80+MPH... I like your idea, but I think the speeds downhill ski racers travel is plenty exciting. No need for fatality inducing distractions there! I'd prefer to see more helmet cam video shots though just to share in the terror that skiing that fast down a mountain is for us mere mortals. Otherwise, I agree with you, the snowboard-cross is great fun to watch.

Mike,
I always thought if it as roller derby on snow. And there is a version on skis - same format. Ski cross
Martin

Ski cross at Sochi is Feb 20/21 so hope you find someone with cable by then!
These sports came to the Olympics via the X Games route.

It does exist: it's called skicross! Both sports are incredibly dangerous -- just have a look at the accidents on youtube (and even deaths on video), all of which might just temper your enthusiasm...

Pak

Check out ski cross. That is your wish come true.

The argument *against* sending groups down together is that somebody ahead falling can mess up the people behind them. Plus, the question of whether tactics directly against another player can be considered a legitimate part of the sport. Makes it more interesting to watch I guess, though.

[Well, but we don't send horses around the track one at a time in the Kentucky Derby, and arguably that would be more appropriate since the horses are animals and don't have a say in whether they want to risk injury and death. And it wouldn't be very much fun to watch each race car at, say, the Daytona 500 complete 500 miles before the next car starts. And in cycling, drafting with other riders is an essential ingredient of strategy. In those cases, contestants can be messed up by being back in the pack when an accident up ahead occurs. --Mike]

"I'm not serious about simultaneous downhill ski races."

It could happen, sort of. Have you seen the newfangled trick whereby NBC overlays one alpine skier's run on top of another's? If not for the fact that they often merge, it looks like they're racing each other down the course at the same time. It's pretty exciting, if you ask me, and one of those technical innovations, like slow motion, that opens the nuances of a sport to a casual viewer.

Well, I imagine it wouldn't be much more difficult to superimpose a few more skiers, perhaps with enhanced color or even labels added to better tell them apart. So, rather than watching one skier after the other, we could watch a bunch at a time, see the race more viscerally, and maybe even see what a hundredth of second looks like spatially. (On the other hand, that last may be why we'll never see this happen!)

In response to your response: I find Luge and Bobsledding to be extremely boring..small increments in human powered events are much more interesting..they measure lots of things..preparation, who was tightest on the day of the event..the most interesting thing to me is how world records keep getting bumped up in small increments..a testament to the notion that these people are SO close to the ever moving line of progress that human beings are obsessed with. It's like.. "We are all the same, but, we're just a little bit different"

You know what I think of when I consider this? I think of the Bernd and Hilla Becher Typologies. Isn't that weird?

Did you see how I tied that into photography?? Pretty tight.

Mike wrote: "This would greatly improve downhill ski racing too...send a half dozen of 'em down the mountain at once. Now that would be cool."

I whole heartedly agree… Cool it would be, quite sporting.
I like your sense of humor Mike.

Don't think of those close finishes as "they went the same speed," think in terms of distance. Bobsled speeds can reach 93 miles an hour (the record is much higher than that) so a 3/100ths of a second victory could be ~ a foot. Or a "nose." If you were watching the Kentucky Derby would you agree that everybody within a certain time frame should be winners, and the horse that led by a "nose" at the finish line should have to share the prize? Or the sprinter who goes through the tape a foot ahead of a competitor should have to share the prize?

About Schumacher's helmet cam -- I think those things are terribly dangerous. Skiiers and snowboarders are using them a lot, and some of the weird helmet mounts are just begging for disaster. Some of them mount right out in front of your jaw, and given the leverages involved, I'm astonished nobody has suffered a broken neck after falling (maybe somebody has, and I haven't heard about it.) Others have multiple screws going through the helmet itself -- there's a smart way to guarantee helmet integrity.

All the Winter Olympics sports seemed just sliding thing here and there. More interesting are those which slide sideway instead of down.

In this regards, I have to admit that I am addict to one winter spot - curling, since first time I saw it. Just addict to it. I cannot stop watching it. It is sliding things around still I know. But I guess you are stoned, you are stoned.

BTW, there is some discussion about use of drone in olympics. Idea quite interesting but the article is just touching the issue.

http://qz.com/177854/the-best-cameramen-at-the-olympics-are-drones/

It is safer to have POV at least; I like him quite a bit especially his interview in the car TV show.

Downhill ski races from the 30s through the early 50s were mass starts, no gates, just get to the finish first. Of course there wasn't any snow grooming and many races were preceded by the racers having to climb up the mountain. Wengen, Hahnenkamm, etc. all started like this.

In the USA, NBC's Universal Sports Network broadcasts World Cup alpine ski races and freestyle events. Much better quality coverage than the X-Games or the Costa-Olympics.

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